Hello David et al,
Continuing with my Devil's Advocate role....
On 20 Mar, 2005, at 20:06, David Golden wrote:
> On Sunday 20 March 2005 17:29, Joseph Kiniry wrote:
>>> One can obtain a patent for what I consider a "reasonable" sum give
>> the bureaucracy involved. In my experience the intellectual effort
>> and time involved are worth far, far more than the patent application
>> costs itself.
>> On a philosophical note, people often mistakenly think the work they
> into something determines what it's worth to others. But that's crap,
> too, counter to free market principles. If it were true, you'd be best
> off doing things in the most inefficient way possible as that would
> build most value.
I am only valuing the time spent in terms of my own salary and
> Most of below is just restating earlier arguments:
>> Hmph. Does the money you pay to the PTO racket adequately compensate
> me for the abridgement of my freedom? Do you even stop chasing patent
> infringements once you've recouped the cost of getting the patent plus
> your development cost? (Well, you personally might for all I know, but
> "you" from now on is not you specifically).
>> Uh no. You've just got an absolute privilege (modulo compulsory
> licensing and noncommercial use allowances in some domains) to govern
> some aspect of my and countless others behaviour for the next 20 years
> potentially for as little as a few grand, probably less than I make in
> a few months to a year.
>> _Great_ deal for you. Not so hot for us. What price our freedom?
>> The disclosure patents are supposed to embody? Unless you're a highly
> atypical software patent author, I'd be better off disassembling your
> binaries or running them under an emulator (if it was all that
> difficult to figure out what you're doing to reimplement it
> independently) than reading the gibberish that patents are written in
> (incidentally, the same often goes for reverse-engineering machinery -
> reverse engineering as a discipline is far more advanced than in the
> beginning of the industrial revolution). And that's quite apart from
> the US "triple damages for knowing infringement if you've read the
> patent" stuff, which leads most software writers to avoid reading
> patents like the plague.
>> The power to get a patent to restrict you in turn? As I've pointed out
> previously, it's very poor recompense for being restricted oneself. I
> don't _want_ to restrict you or be restricted! And if you don't care
> much about writing software yourself, but only litigating (i.e. you're
> a patent troll), the power to restrict you from writing some software
> would be pretty damn useless anyway as you won't be interested in
> cross-licensing but rather getting me to settle for some fee or suing
> me bankrupt and stripping my assets (probably including my patent to
> add to your extortion toolkit portfolio).
>> [Aside: that's why I expressed skepticism about some Microsoft's
> proposed patent reforms, especially making it cheaper for small
> entities to get patents: The I"P" holding companies core
> microsoft/ex-microsoft people (eg.g. Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures)
> and others now run don't produce anything much. They just legally wall
> off as much of idea space as possible so they can extract monopoly
> rents. As patents are transferrable assets, making it easier for small
> companies to get patents just means they have more assets to strip more
> easily and cheaply to make larger portfolios to strip more assets more
> easily and cheaply...]
>> [Aside: some asian countries AFAIK have use-it-or-lose-it clauses in
> patent law. Your patent is invalidated if you don't make anything
> under it within a certain time ]
>> [Aside: governments also often tax on revenue from patent licensing.
> another reason they're not likely to want to see them go]
This whole rant is about how broken the existing system is and how
abused it is by individuals and companies, big and small. We are in
agreement about such, so there is not a whole lot I can say.
>> Do you believe that patents block progress in fields other than
>> I certainly do, just check out the oil cartel patent portfolio some
> time... It's just with software the effect is particularly nasty and
> visible because there's still significant capital required for
> real-world engineering, unlike software development (and of course
> unless you begin to need significant capital to overcome patent
> licensing constraints... This is how patents can be used to raise the
> barrier to market entry for new players by established players. An
> effect Bill Gates was fully aware of in 1991 and chose to exploit
> rather than oppose. I'm old enough to remember people cheering
> Microsoft on against the Evil IBM. Turns out that, as usual, the guys
> overthrowing the dictators just wanted to be dictators themselves, not
> wanted freedom...)
Isn't a more fair comparison for this discussion domains in which
hobbyists work, not giant oil corporations or patent disputes hundreds
of years old?
While patents being abused by individuals and corporations
significantly predates modern computing, I would still like to compare
apples to at least oranges and not tractors.
Also, how often do you believe that serious modern "for profit"
software development does not require significant capital?
Joseph R. Kiniry
Dept. of Computer Science, University College Dublin
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